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Search tags: religion-myth-folktales-fables
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review 2018-10-27 18:25
Since I'm not reading for spirituality's sake
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen Mandelbaum

Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)

 

I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.

 

Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.

 

Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.

 

I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.

 

If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).

 

Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.

 

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review 2018-09-11 11:16
Gorgeous and Flavourful
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor

This one was fast fun and a different flavour on the usual tropes of it's genre. Big on representation, feminism, and an interesting peek into a rich and varied culture and myth set that I confess I know nothing about.

 

The kids feel a bit older than they are (might be a cultural thing), and this thing of putting the end of the world responsibilities onto the children's shoulders is one that constantly sticks in my craw now that I'm older, but I happen to know it was the bomb when I was a kid (Harry Potter, I'm looking at you) so the one star demoted might be an "unintended audience" thing.

 

Wondering what else I can get my hands on from the area, which this book's popularity might make easier, so kudos too for broadening horizons and opening markets.

 

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review 2018-08-24 22:03
POV's and unheard voices
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood

For such a short thing, it certainly packed a punch.

 

Between the unreliable but scathing narrator and the creepy chorus, I found myself running the whole gamut of reactions, from laughter to shudders.

 

It was an interesting way of taking a stab at all the bits of the Odyssey that make you look askance and wonder.

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review 2018-01-10 02:45
Coming of age sci-fi
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

I'm rating this what I think my 12 years old me would have, because adult me has issues.

 

What was touched upon that I loved:

 

  • How structured education can grind on an, as Calvin calls it, uneven child.
  • That moment of realization where we find out that parents are not omnipotent, and the subsequent time were we resent them for not living up to that expectation.
  • Being equals and being the same are two different things.
  • Siblings love.

 

Talking generally, I really liked the descriptions. Very vivid.

 

My adult hang-up: More or less the same as with Narnia, though thankfully not as egregious. The religious undertones I could well have done without (hell, the three Mrs. could well be placeholders for the holy trinity, one not being corporeal, one good at communicating, one coming as quotes). I'd demote half a star for that today.

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review 2017-12-12 12:55
Casting your brain into big questions
Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang

I went in all big eyes and heavy heart and cheating, starting with the story I was curious about after watching the movie. It was sadder in it's determinism, but it was all that (and it had emotion, lordy, did it have emotion).

 

About half way through this book (and with my brain much hurting, I get so immersed into these Big Question explorations), LeGuin's introduction for The Left Hand of Darkness (I was very much taken by them, book and intro) kept popping into my thoughts. The part where she says taking a concept to it's maximum expression is like concentrating any chemical element: it causes cancer.

 

The stories vary in nature and theme, they are interesting, and unique. And in a sense, bleak. Lacking in hope, some in sentiment, some in... something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but while amazing, thought-provoking explorations that filled me with wonder or questions, each tale left me with this vague sense of depression. Which had little to do with whether they had happy ending or not (most are a dagger), since Le Guin does that, you blubber like a fool, and still makes you love it and leave bittersweet hopeful. So, not the presence of pain. Maybe more like a general lack of joy to balance them (for the most part).

 

Anyway, it is a really good book to think about or discuss, and it delves into some interesting territories (I'm itching for some looong research and reading on some things that went over my head). Different and exhausting. Will read more of the author.

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